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Thursday, 17 August, 2000, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
UK doctors in heart breakthrough
Many heart surgery patients suffer side-effects
Doctors in London have identified a way of making heart surgery safer for patients.

Cardiac surgery is very complex and many patients suffer major complications after an operation.

But doctors at London's Hammersmith Hospital believe they have identified a drug which can be used to reduce the risks involved in heart surgery.

They have found that the drug aprotinin stops some of the body's unwanted and potentially damaging reactions to the operation.

The drug is currently used to cut down on bleeding during and after bypass surgery.

The use of aprotinin could become a standard procedure in heart operations across the world

Professor Ken Taylor, Hammersmith NHS Trust

But the doctors have suggested that administering the drug routinely to patients could have significant benefits for the hundreds of thousands of patients across the world who undergo heart surgery each year.

The research team, based at the British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Unit within the hospital, discovered that aprotinin successfully stopped blood cells from becoming inflamed in a certain way.

This meant that the blood did not cause any of the body's other vital organs, such as the brain, lungs and kidneys, to react adversely to the surgical operation.

They also found that the drug could be used to prevent blood clotting, which is a major risk of heart surgery.

Professor Ken Taylor, BHF professor of cardiac surgery at Hammersmith NHS Trust said the use of the drug could become standard across the world as a way of reducing the side-effects of cardiac surgery.

"Our research clearly shows that the use of aprotinin could become a standard procedure in heart operations across the world.

"Many of our previous recommendations about the drug have become routine practice in cardiovascular surgery and we hope these important new findings will be adopted in a similar way."

He added: "The drug offers patients a better chance of avoiding the complications that can arise from complex cardiac surgery."

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06 Mar 00 | Health
Waiting in vain for heart surgery
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